Money·4 min read

theSkimm’s Guide to Surviving Wedding Season

Two people celebrating their wedding
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
February 18, 2022

After a long break (thanks, pandemic), you might have some save-the-dates posted on your fridge again. Yep, weddings are back. But your wallet may not be feeling the love. One study says guests spend $460 on average. Per. Wedding.

So much for ‘love don’t cost a thing.’

JLo lied to us. So before you RSVP ‘yes’ (assuming you’re ready to start socializing IRL again), protect your bank account and figure out how much you can afford to spend. Some helpful hints to keep in mind:

  • Your budget should include everything from travel to clothes to gifts. For everything from engagement parties and showers to bachelorette weekends to (finally) the actual wedding day.

  • Come up with a ballpark number for what you’re willing to spend for weddings through the end of the year, and start saving a little each month.

  • Extra credit if you set up a separate savings account just for weddings, and nickname it something fun. Experts say naming savings accounts helps create an emotional connection to your goal (aka not going broke), so you’re more motivated to keep saving.

  • If you can’t afford to attend every wedding you’re invited to...just say no. Prioritize the ones that mean the most to you. Once you hit your budget limit, politely decline the others. Emily Post says, yes, you still have to send a gift.

But knowing how much to gift is the hardest part.

Always. Give the 60-20-20 rule a try. That’s where you spend 60% of your overall gift budget on the wedding gift, 20% on a shower gift, and 20% for the engagement gift.

Different box sizes with gift amounts
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock

The dollar amount depends on your relationship with the couple. For the wedding gift, the Knot suggests $50-$75 for a coworker or distant relative and $100-$150 for a close relative or friend. But let your budget be the final say.

You might be able to spend a little less by going in with friends on a bigger gift from the couple’s registry. Be the KitchenAid hero your friend needs. Speaking of registries, make sure to check them out early before all the reasonably priced options are gone and you’re stuck with $200 bird-shaped salt and pepper shakers.

Got it. And when it comes to travel…?

You may want to pack higher costs into your budget. Demand for air travel took off in 2021 and pushed plane ticket prices higher. Inflation on gas prices isn’t helping either. And costs are expected to keep rising right through this year's wedding season. Look for savings by checking out group rates at hotels and for flights. Yep, that’s a thing. Many of the major airlines (Delta, United, American) offer discounted flights if you’re flying with 8-10 friends. Try calling the airline if you can’t find a form to fill out online.

Sounds great. Except I have nothing to wear.

Relatable. But something borrowed doesn’t just apply to the bride. Ask a friend to look through her closet instead of buying something new. Or try renting.


Wedding season may be back, but that doesn’t mean you have to break up with your budget. A little planning and smart booking strategies can go a long way. So you and your money can live happily ever after.  

Updated Feb. 17 to include the latest average costs.

Subscribe to Skimm Money

Your source for the biggest financial headlines and trends, and how they affect your wallet.